Stephen A. Mrozowski | Historical Archaeology
Drawing inspiration from the writings of Rosa Luxemburg, this article examines the role of consumer behavior in the growth of capitalism, as well as the roles of violence and accumulation by dispossession at the intersection of colonialism and capitalist accumulation. In her critique of Marx, Luxemburg asked what had created the demand for the goods that fueled capitalist expansion. She also called for more studies of the “real-life” experiences of those who were actors in capitalist economies. This article examines case studies from 12th- to 16th-century Europe and Britain for evidence of consumerism driving economic expansion, and takes a detailed look at the manner in which colonial legal systems contributed to the violence and dispossession experienced by the Nipmuc of Massachusetts and Connecticut. These two forces—consumer behavior and accumulation through dispossession––are presented as critical elements of an emerging political economy that was linked to the growth of capitalism.